JOLIET -- A 76-year-old Catholic priest with a sordid past wasarraigned Thursday on charges he allegedly had sexual contact with twoteenage boys in 1996 and 1999.
Louis Rogge, 76, from the Carmelite Order, posted $4,000 bail and isfree on bond. He was indicted by a grand jury this week on four countsof aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
Rogge lives at the St. Elias Priory. He has been out of the publicministry since 2002, when the issue of sexual abuse by priests became anational scandal.
At the time, the U.S. bishops issued an orderto remove from ministry any priest that has had credible allegations ofabuse lodged against him. And thus, Rogge was removed and assigned toduties as an archivist at the Carmelites' libraries, according toFather John Welch, Provincial of the Carmelites of the Most Pure Heartof Mary in Darien.
In 1974, Rogge pleaded guilty to charges ofchild molestation in Athens, Ga. In 1976, after serving probation, and"based on the professional advice available at the time," he was placedback into public ministry, Welch said.
Prosecutors: 2 boys abused
Prosecutors said the first of the latest incidents in which Rogge ischarged occurred during the summer of 1996; the second occurred in1999. Both boys were 15 when they were allegedly abused.
Rogge was apparently a friend of both families and served as a spiritual advisor for the boys.
Thisis the first case of sexual abuse involving a Catholic priest to becharged in Will County since the priest sex abuse scandal arose.
"Priestsand other clergy members hold positions of the highest level of respectand trust in our community. They must be held strictly accountable whenthat trust is violated," State's Attorney James Glasgow said in astatement.
"We teach our children to hold priests in the highestregard, and that, combined with a child's inherently trusting nature,makes their victimization truly a moral outrage."
Welch said theCarmelites "were certainly saddened by the developments and the chargesbrought forth." The group has offered counseling to both allegedvictims, he said.
Diocese "had no dealings"
Since Rogge is from the Carmelite Order, the Diocese of Joliet did notoversee him at any time, spokesman Tom Kerber said Thursday.
"That'snot to say we don't feel sorry for the people who have been hurt,"Kerber said. "Nobody likes to see somebody else injured, but we havenot had any dealings with Father Rogge."
According to Welch, from1976 to 1984, Rogge was a theology instructor at Loyola UniversityChicago. In 1984, he became an administrator at the Carmelite Institutein Rome, where he served until 1992.
For about a year, Roggetrained to become a hospital minister. Then, from 1994 until 2002, hewas part of a group of Carmelite priests that spoke and ministered atvarious churches throughout the country on an invitation basis, Welchsaid.
For a short time, probably in the mid 1970s, Rogge workedat Joliet Catholic High School, but Welch did not have more specificinformation available about that job.
At one point in the late1990s, Rogge was affiliated with the Knights of Columbus Council No.4400 in Joliet, where he served as a chaplain.
A Knights ofColumbus member, who did not want his name used, said, "I just knew(Rogge) as a chaplain, and ... did not really associate with him."
Still, the member said, the charges "surprise me. I never heard anything derogatory said against him."
State laws helped charges
The state's attorney's office was able to charge the cases thanks torecent changes in state laws dealing with statutes of limitations.
Whilethe statutes never expired, the statute on the first case was onlymonths away from expiring in 2002. In August of that year, the statelegislature rewrote the rules dealing with sex cases, thus grantingprosecutors more time.
"Our authority to prosecute this case is amiracle of sorts," Glasgow said in the statement. "It was a criticalchange in the law that enabled us to file these charges."
Under current law, prosecutors may file sexual abuse charges up to 20 years after the victim reaches the age of 18.
The four counts that Rogge face are class 2 felonies that carry a prison sentence of three to seven years, if he is convicted.
Reporter Patrick Ferrell can be reached at (815) 729-6037 or firstname.lastname@example.org /a> /a>